Cold Lentil Salad | A Colorful Superfood Experience

Looking to add a little protein to your day? This Cold Lentil Salad is refreshing, easy to make, and a great source of protein. Full of color and amazing taste, it’s sure to satisfy!

Looking to add a little protein to your day? This Cold Lentil Salad is refreshing, easy to make, and a great source of protein. Full of color and amazing taste, it’s sure to satisfy!

Cold Lentil Salad is a great summer dish (but it’s also fabulous any time of the year). Packed with protein and flavor, you’ll find that it’s a pretty simple salad to throw together. And, lentils are a super food! Easy to spot in the grocery store, they can be bought in either the can or dried. I buy them dry because they store well on the pantry shelf. I cook up a batch of lentils whenever I need them for recipes like Sweet Potato And Lentil Hash With Garlic Sauteed Kale or Quinoa Lentil Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, lentils are a wonderful protein substitute, and if you need to watch out for gluten, lentils are perfect in gluten-free recipes. Is meal prep your thing? Lentils are in a lot of meal prep dishes because of their fabulous nutritional content. Let’s look more at the lentil and then, make the Cold Lentil Salad together!

Overhead image of ingredients for the Cold Lentil Salad including Italian parsley, carrots, onion, lemon, and garlic.

Lentils are actually quite delicious and surprisingly nutritious.  So, for today’s post, I thought I’d share a little about how great lentils are in an effort to increase their use in your kitchen and mine.

What Are Lentils?

Lentils are legumes that come with a ton of nutritional power. Yes, they may be small, but they are mighty!

  • Lentils are very rich in protein, folic acid, and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
  • They’re very high in Vitamin C, the B vitamins and contain 8 of the essential amino acids.
  • Lentils contain many valuable trace minerals.
  • They’re one of the highest sources of antioxidants found in legumes.
  • Ummm…they are quite tasty.
Overhead image of a cutting board with scissors and Italian parsley on it, with some parsley in a white bowl.

Health Benefits Of Lentils

  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease: Studies have found that people who eat high fiber legumes, like lentils, have a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Stabilize Blood Sugar: Lentils help in regulating blood sugar by providing steady, slow-burning energy and balancing blood sugar levels from the high fiber content.
  • Replenish Iron Within Your Body: Lentils are loaded with iron and are great for people who don’t eat red meat (like vegans and vegetarians).
  • Healthy Functioning of the Nervous, Digestive, and Immune Systems: Lentils are a great source of B vitamins, most notably folate and niacin (B3).
  • Lower Cholesterol: Lentils are a great cholesterol-lowering food due to their high levels of fiber.
  • Protein Packed: 26% of the calories in lentils are from protein and they have the third highest level of protein than any other plant food.

So, there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about lentils. Probably even more. Given all their health benefits, it’s really no wonder lentils are a staple in so many parts of the world.

Overhead image of some of the salad ingredients including parsley, lentils and  lemon, with green onion chopped on the cutting board.

What Kind Of Lentils Work Best For This Salad?

Whole lentils work best in this Cold Lentil Salad. Why? Whole lentils tend to hold their shape better than split lentils do. Here’s a bit more info on lentils:

  • Brown lentils: These are the most common, hold their shape well in recipes and cook in about 20 minutes. They are earthy and mild.
  • Green lentils: With a somewhat peppery flavor, the green lentil cooks in about 45 minutes. They stay firm when cooked.
  • Red lentils: Red lentils are often described as sweet but do tend to get mushy when cooked. This lentil variety is most often sold split, and that’s why they get soft and lose their shape. They are perfect if you are looking to thicken a soup.
  • Canned lentils: Canned lentils are precooked. It’s often recommended to rinse them well before adding them to your recipe. This reduces the sodium content.

Are Lentils Good For Losing Weight?

Lentils are good for losing weight because of the soluble fiber content. Fiber slows down the digestive process, resulting in you feeling fuller. They’ve got protein too, which is ideal for helping you lose weight. Read more about protein and weight loss right here, in my post on pea protein. 

Lentils (along with chickpeas and beans) are called pulses. Studies show that pulses can help you to lose weight.

Overhead view of a saucepan filled with water and lentils ready to cook.

How To Cook Lentils

Cooking lentils is not hard. A few quick steps are all you need to cook the lentils and add them to your Cold Lentil Salad.

  1. Rinse the lentils in a colander under cold water.
  2. Add to a saucepan in the ratio of 3 cups of water or broth to 1 cup of dry lentils. The lentils will get bigger as they cook.
  3. At this point, you can also add ingredients like garlic or a bay leaf to intensify the flavor. Don’t add salt as it may toughen the lentils. You can season them to your taste after they are cooked.
  4. Bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce the heat and cook to the instructed time, according to what type of lentils you have.
Overhead image of some of the salad ingredients including parsley, lentils and  lemon, with carrots chopped on the cutting board.

An alternative to cooking the lentils: You may also soak the lentils for 24 hours. After rinsing well, bring the lentils to a boil. After just a few minutes, drain the lentils and let them sit in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Do you need to soak lentils? It’s not necessary to soak the lentils before cooking. But if you choose to do that, it will reduce the cooking time.

Additional Tips for cooking lentils:

  • Go ahead and cook your lentils in vegetable, beef, or chicken broth to add flavor.
  • Measure your quantities – lentils cook best in lots of liquid.
  • Don’t overcook the lentils because they can become soft. Keep an eye on them.
Overhead view of a cutting board with some of the ingredients for the Cold Lentil Salad including red wine vinegar, garlic, kosher salt and pepper.

What Pairs Well With This Cold Lentil Salad?

This salad is filling and can be a complete meal! But if you’d like to serve it alongside something, I’ll suggest these amazing dishes.

How Do I Store Cold Lentil Salad?

Store Cold Lentil Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. It’s wonderful to have on hand for a quick meal and holds the flavors well! BTW, dry and canned lentils can be stored in the pantry for up to a year. But once you make this Cold Lentil Salad, you’ll be using your lentils in no time!

Close up view of a glass bowl and whisk, the bowl has ingredients to be mixed such as red wine vinegar, kosher salt and pepper, and lemon.

What’s In This Cold Lentil Salad?

I love every ingredient in this Cold Lentil Salad. It’s colorful and tastes great! This is what I put in this easy and flavorful recipe. Grab a pen and make your shopping list!

  • Lentils – I used green lentils
  • Olive oil – see my post on healthy oils
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Green onions
  • Italian parsley
  • Red onion
  • Carrots
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Close up view of a colander with chopped ingredients for the Cold Lentil Salad including lentils, carrots, red onion, and parsley.

Other Ways To Use Lentils

I have lots of uses for lentils. Try these ideas:

  • Use in spaghetti sauce instead of meat
  • Add cooked lentils to dips
  • Thicken soups and stews
  • Fill a taco with a tasty lentil mixture
  • Make a curry with lentils
  • Toast cooked lentils to top your salad
Close up side view image of Cold Lentil Salad on a white plate with a striped napkin underneath and a fork on the plate.

More Healthy Salad Recipes

Salads are one of my favorite things but especially when they have added protein. Try one of these healthy salad recipes for a satisfying dish that leaves you feeling good! I’ve got lots more savory and sweet salads to try in my cookbook too.

This post contains affiliate links to products I use regularly and highly recommend.

5 from 1 vote
Cold Lentil Salad Square Recipe Preview Image
Cold Lentil Salad
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

Looking to add a little protein to your day? This Cold Lentil Salad is refreshing, easy to make, and a great source of protein. Full of color and amazing taste, it’s sure to satisfy!

Categories: Salad
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: cold lentil salad, cold lentil salad recipes, lentil salad vegan
Servings: 4
Calories: 215 kcal
Author: A Sweet Pea Chef
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils uncooked
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • kosher salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add enough water to fully cover lentils in a deep pot and cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes, or until tender (but not falling apart).
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cooked lentils, green onions, parsley, red onion and carrot. Drizzle olive oil mixture over salad and toss well. Season to taste with kosher salt and ground black pepper, if desired.
  5. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30-45 minutes to chill, preferably 2-3 hours to allow flavors to meld.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Cold Lentil Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 215 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 0.6g3%
Sodium 223.7mg9%
Carbohydrates 34.1g11%
Fiber 6.1g24%
Sugar 2.3g3%
Protein 12.3g25%
Vitamin A 800IU16%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 3.6mg20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

27 thoughts on “Cold Lentil Salad | A Colorful Superfood Experience

  1. Lentils are supposed to SIMMER covered to cook. I don’t know why I followed these cooking instructions since I make lentils all the time and know better. I always just assume that food bloggers know what they are talking about, but… Unfortunately I did follow these instructions and I burned the lentils and my pot. Now off to figure out different dinner plans. If you believe that these cooking instructions are correct, maybe specify the amount of water to use because just covering them will lead to burning. Thanks!

  2. love, love, love this recipe…very easy and tasty..an fyi, trader joes has steamed lentils all ready to go..they are vacuum packed and in the produce section..just open and add to ingredients..huge time saver and they are very tasty!

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  4. This is delicious! I just made it for the second time. I cheated a little bit with pre-cut veggies at Trader Joe’s that come in a package together (carrots, onions, celery). I also used Trader Joe’s pre-cooked lentils in the fridge section. Super quick & easy to make a healthy lunch for work! Thanks for the recipe!

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  6. Joe – cover with a good amount of water and monitor for water absorption. Add more if necessary – keep an eye on the water level while boiling. Drain lentils when cooked to desired softness.

  7. 1 cup dried lentils gives 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils. Average serving size is 1/2 cup of cooked lentils per person.

    In our house…not quite…big eaters. 🙂
    So adjust recipe according to your desired serving size per person.

    Just made this today – it’s in the refrigerator melding…can’t wait to eat. Thanks for the recipe lacey.

  8. I tried to cook the lentils as instructed but I ended up burning everything. Any suggestions? What kind of lentils did you use? Thanks.

  9. Hey , made this for the kids and they loved it, i also make a similar one but with pinto beans , and pico de gallo n we have it with chips and salsa….everyone loves it

  10. This looks amazing! I would personally replace the carrots with diced tomato as I’m not big on the crunch!
    Will try this tomorrow!

  11. Hello! I would also like to know how many servings this makes and if you have the nutrition information?

    Thanks!

  12. Adam grew up eating lentils and can’t get enough of them, although it took me a while to warm up to them, but I have come to appreciate them especially as he insists on lentils on New Year’s day in homage to his years in Italy. This is a delicious preparation, and beautifully photographed. Glad to have run across your blog on Tastespotting!

  13. I have been wanting to do something with the dried lentils in my pantry. They are leftover from “soup” season aka winter. I will definitely have to try this!

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